Fitting the Hackamore

The position of the bosal is approximately halfway between the horse’s muzzle and eyes (the button of the bosal sits on the nasal bone above the soft cartilage . Once the mecate are attached and without contact the bosal and bars are angulated coming behind the corner of the mouth and close to the jaw line with the heel knot resting close to the chin of the horse. The bars of the bosal should rest lightly on the side of the upper and lower jaw (not pinching). The lower the bosal is positioned amplifies the point of flexion, the higher the bosal and closer to the poll reduces this along with the sensitivity and feel for both the horse and rider.

The use of the bosal works on placing pressure on the trigeminal nerve network in the horse’s head (bridge, cheek and lower jaw). The three branches of the trigeminal are (1. ophthalmic nerve, 2nd maxillary nerve and 3rd mandibular nerve.

Nerve Cluster
Nerve Cluster

When contact is taken the nose button should roll evenly across the nasal bone of the horse with the bars coming into contact with the lower jaw. This balanced motion will become all the more minimal throughout the horses training. The horses profile will determine the ideal fitting. A bosal can be shaped (see shaping) to the contours of the horse however if the horse has a deep jaw (more cold blooded) then certain bosals may be too small and prohibit sufficient movement. We offer a broad range of bosals of varying dimensions from shorter nose buttons (see nose button) to greater internal depths, to help cater for all types of horses from quarter to draft horses.

The side buttons beneath the nose button should not pinch the horse but rest as the cheeks against the side of its head. They should be braided to secure the hanger/headstall between the button and the nose button but not prominent enough to create a sore point on the horse.

If a horse has a smaller jaw and the bosal appears too large then the cheeks can be shaped accordingly and the mecate used to reduce this depth, there should always be space between the top wrap of the mecate and the horses lower jaw. Additional wraps of a mecate will impact on the balancing, and release of the bosal as the heel knot will be carrying a greater weight.

The use of headstalls and hangers can be combined with a bosal without impacting on the release. If using a heavier weight thicker headstall there are a few considerations; the loop size (sufficient diameter, flexible enough to adjust), type of tie (latigo/buckle), cheek diameter (e.g. large diameter ¾” or ½”) and the button size. Latigo ties are preferable as they provide greater adjustment to permit movement without too much movement. Overtightening will impede the release of the bosal. If incorporating a fiador then a headstall is required (see fiador fitting).

The selection and fitting of the hackamore is a much discussed topic and we would like to state that the criteria may differ from one area to another, where different concepts of how the hackamore is traditionally used. At the end of the day it is paramount that it does not incur any damage to the horse, we fit and advise the purchase of our hackamores to customers based on them and their horse’s requirements and how we believe it will work best. Remember though body position, light hands are the key and heavy hands, poor posture combined with ill-fitting tack can impair training and create discomfort.